Over the years, supporting City has seen me endure more than a slice of the ridiculous, but 'birthdaygate' may well just be the icing on the cake (sorry). Over the past week we were introduced to the notion that Yaya Toure, a 31 year-old man, was willing to leave the club over the unsatisfactory recognition of his birthday. I think we can all be excused for thinking that that is a trifle absurd (I'm really sorry).
It baffles me that the following points were a point of discussion but yes, Yaya was presented with a cake on the flight to Abu Dhabi and, yes, this cake was accompanied by a lovely little impromptu sing-song. If he was asleep through all of that, which he certainly seemed to be, not only has a further cake been mooted, but he also had the chance to celebrate his birthday, as well as a Premier League and League Cup double, in Abu Dhabi alongside the owners who are alleged to have snubbed him. In short, City didn't forget.
In truth, I don't think that it takes too much to read between the lines with this story but a Sky interview with Dimitry Selcuk, Toure's agent and confidante, made it that little bit easier:
"This isn't about money or a new contract - it's about human relationships and City have shown [that] they don't respect him. I repeat, this is not about money. In fact, he would take less to return to Barcelona"
Now, I'm not sure about any of you, but I reckon that this might just be about money...
This has nothing to do with "human relationships". This hasn't come about because City begrudged Yaya the mandatory birthday Bugatti (how un-holistic of us). Selcuk's recent claims that a coaching role would allay Toure's pain prove that beyond all question - if he had fallen out with the hierarchy I hardly see why he'd want to become a part of it. No, this is just a pretext, albeit an elaborate one, designed to get him an improved deal whilst his stock is at an all-time high.
Is Yaya really that bothered? I'm inclined to think not. Whilst I am sure that he would like more money and whilst we all know that he won't mind Selcuk keeping Barcelona interested, my impression is that his agent is the driving force behind all of this. Agents are there to get their clients lots of money whilst making a lot of money for themselves - simple as that - and Selcuk likely sees the chance to line his pockets. We have to remember that Toure has named his second son after this man so he is very likely to be all too ready to heed his council and see what comes of the Selcuk circus. His continued silence makes him complicit but his involvement seems, to me, to be passive. No Selcuk - No issue.
Then there are the tweets. I am almost certain that the first two and the second two were written by different people - they were written very differently and they were completely contradictory - but any attempt to explain them with even an ounce of certainty would fall short of speculation. If Selcuk is truly driving these events, you would have to suggest that he wrote the last two in response to Toure's attempts to disarm the situation with the first two. Picture this timeline of events: The Toure rumours begin, Toure quickly responds on Twitter to the rumours, Selcuk sets him right and tells Toure to leave it to him (his undeniable eccentricity leads him to post on Yaya's Twitter), Toure listens because of Selcuk's influence over him. Not beyond the realms of impossibility I would say.
Should I be worried about losing Yaya? Maybe I should be more worried than I am but this has happened before. He apparently wanted to leave last year, said Selcuk. He wanted to leave the year before that, said Selcuk. He's still here and, honestly, I don't see that changing. Put simply, he has three years left on his contract and City aren't in a position where they have to sell their best players.
Now, I may eat my words, but I expect this to pass without incident. His passivity in what will surely be called a saga come this time next month will mean that nothing will change. I expect him to line up against Arsenal in the Community Shield and I expect Wembley, along with every other ground he plays at next year, to be generous with their birthday greetings. But, then, wouldn't it be so City if I was proven wrong?
By Matthew Hewitt - Manchester City fan -